Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #20

I'm glad I read The Natural Family: A Manifesto by Allan C. Carlson and Paul T. Mero, though it's not what you'd call a page-turner. Carlson and Mero make the case for the traditional family (they prefer the term "natural family") from a non-religious standpoint, something I think we must do in our secularizing culture. Looking at biology, sociology, psychology, and politics and by using plain ol' commonsense the authors show why people ~ men, women, and children ~ are happier and better off when they are part of a natural family. The book is well documented and loaded with statistics and references to study after study. That's where it gets just a wee bit tedious, but I understand why that was necessary.

In relation to the natural family, the authors discuss poverty, population decline, domestic violence, anti-family governmental policies, education (with more than a few positive references to homeschooling), working mothers, daycare ~ whatever topic you can think of that relates to the family, it is probably in this book. Something I found refreshing about The Natural Family is that although Carlson and Mero spell out steps the government could and should take to strengthen the family, their main thrust is aimed at families themselves. In true conservative fashion, they don't expect or want the government to fix the family, only support it through family-friendly tax and other policies. The solutions lie in the hands of men and women and the families they form through marriage and childbearing.

Though their ideas are helpful to people of all ages, Carlson and Mero plea especially with those in their 20's and 30's to rethink what they've been told by liberal feminism about marriage, divorce, and family size and timing. I hope many young people will read this book and be persuaded about the benefits to themselves and society of marrying and having many children.

If you go here and type his name in the search engine, you can hear many interviews Allan Carlson has done with Issues, Etc. host, Todd Wilken. Very enjoyable listening.

With our upcoming move, I will be relying on audiobooks and shorter books for several weeks to keep up with the reading challenge. I hope that's all right with my vast reading audience, but I'm afraid it will have to do. This is real life. ;-)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ May 26, 2011


The landing on our staircase is one of the prettiest spots in our house. We bought the bookcase at an antique store for $30, and when we brought it home, I painted it using crackly paint. (Please don't judge too harshly ~ it was my first attempt creating this effect, and it is less than perfect. But since I was going for a distressed look anyway, I figured it didn't really matter. lol) The painting was given to us by a friend before she moved. See her signature in Korean in the lower right-hand corner? I think of her everyday because of this painting. The blue and white transferware is part of my vast collection. Not only do we eat from my collection everyday, various and sundry pieces are scattered through the house. One of my very favorites is the little bank on the first shelf. Isn't it sweet? The ginger jar was a gift from my mother, and Girl Out of the House and That Boy gave me the plate for Christmas last year. Both are gorgeous!

I also love the gothic cut-outs on the sides!


We've begun packing boxes for our upcoming move. These are in Man of the House's office, and now the bookcases are empty. Just two and a half weeks until Moving Day!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Teensy Rant (Or: Oh, No! Not Again!)

Yes, I'm going to rant again, but I'll keep it short.

When one attends a formal or semi-formal wedding, one should not wear cargo shorts. If the groom and groomsmen are in tuxes and the bride and bridesmaids are wearing formal dresses, cargo shorts are not in keeping with the nature of the occasion. Come on, fellas, at least put on a pair of dress pants and a polo shirt, for crying out load! Even that falls short, but cargo shorts?! I ask you!

At the wedding we attended Saturday I saw three ~ count 'em, three! ~ young men (er . . . excuse me . . . guys) wearing cargo shorts. Their mothers would have hung their heads in shame had they seen their progeny so attired for an occasion of such import. People, what you wear speaks volumes about what you think of the function you are attending and the people with whom you are attending it. It is not okay to wear to a wedding what you would wear to mow your grass. The two are not of equal import and do require different clothing. And I'm sorry to say that this plague of inappropriate dress is found not only among the young. I see middle-aged and elderly people doing the same thing in increasing numbers. The rampant casualness of American society is getting out of hand. You don't have to wear a suit to change the oil, but how about to a friend's wedding? Show some respect, for Pete's sake.

There. I feel better now. ;-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge ~ Too Busy!

Hi, all! Well, I failed. I didn't get book #20 finished this week, mainly because of a very busy weekend, but it was for a happy reason. Man of the House performed his first wedding! Rehearsal Friday, wedding Saturday, and regular divine services Sunday all combined to restrict my reading time. But I am a book ahead and so still on schedule. I shouldn't have any trouble finishing this week.

The young couple who got married were as cute as they could be ~ endearingly nervous and excited. Man of the House did a bang-up job. No one knew it was his first wedding. I forgot my camera, alas, so I have no pictures to share.

So hopefully this week should be a little more leisurely . . . except I keep forgetting that I should be packing. Moving day is in just three weeks! Yikes!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ May 19, 2011

Just a quick post today about something pretty. These come from an enormous rose bush in front of our house, which produces profuse blooms of the most delicate pink. I cut these and put them on top of our piano. There are still plenty more outside!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Big News

Big happenings around here. Man of the House has received and accepted a call to a permanent pastorate, so we will be leaving Appalachia and moving back to the Mid-west, something Man of the House and I are happy about. Girl of the House has been surrounded by hills since birth and the wide open spaces make her nervous. Other than that, she seems pretty laid back about it. No "you're ruining my life!" drama. What a sweetie.

We should be ensconced in the parsonage in mid-June, Lord willing. In the meantime, we will, of course, be packing and selling our house. Even though we've lived in our present house for over fifteen years, we've been pretty good about giving things a good clear-out every year or two, so there isn't too much detritus to wade through. We are all thankful for that!

I will do my best to keep up with my reading challenge during the transition. I may have to rely on short books or audiobooks, or I may have to catch up later. I am a book ahead, so that gives me a little leeway up front. I'll blog about our move if there's anything blog-worthy.

This is a dream come true for Man of the House and we are all excited for him! He's thought about being a pastor since before we were married. He has a lot of prior ministry experience as an elder and interim pastor, but this is his first full-fledged call. Hey, he's younger than Moses was when God called him. ;-)

Our denomination is The American Association of Lutheran Churches, a small, conservative arm of Lutheranism. We are moving to a small (pop. 5700) farming community within pretty easy driving distance of a large metropolitan area. It's big enough to merit its own Walmart. lol The people at the church were friendly and welcoming when we visited. May we be blessings to one another.

Man of the House will continue his online teaching duties, at least for the first year. The schedule has already been made and families registered, so he needs to see it through. His schedule will be a challenge, but he's a hard worker ~ always has been ~ and I will help him as much as I can.

So that's our big news. It's been a long time coming and I'm not sure we are fully grasping the implications yet. Your prayers for us as we make this transition are truly appreciated. :-)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #19

I first learned of the Battle of Hastings in my high school world history class, and since that time I have encountered it while homeschooling my kids, in other reading, and in Teaching Co. lectures, but 1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth filled in many gaps in my knowledge. The book takes its readers through the events that led to Harold's coronation as King of England and Duke William's consequent invasion to secure the crown that he believed was rightfully his, culminating in the Battle of Hastings. At just two hundred pages, I'm sure it's not an exhaustive history, but it is certainly informative for those whose knowledge about the battle was picked up piecemeal like mine was.

The author is very fair and evenhanded in his assessment of the events and players in the crucial year of 1066. He does not engage in the riduiculous speculation so common among historians today that result in equally ridiculous interpretations of history. The writing itself is very good. I can see why The New Yorker commented, "A model of scholarly popular history . . . Mr. Howarth is a brilliant writer, full of wit and solid common sense."

David Howarth was a military historian; I had never read any military history before now, but this book was so much more interesting and engaging than I ever thought a book about military history could be, and I will likely stop avoiding books of that type now. This book would also make an excellent addition to a high school history curriculum.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ May 11, 2011


Short Ride in a Fast Machine by composer John Adams is a lot of fun! Adams (born 1947) is one of America's most often performed composers and this paricular work is extremely popular as an encore piece. Adams is known as a minimalist composer, which means that he is interested in stripping music down to its bare bones, especially rhythm. Minimalist music is highly repetitive and can get downright boring if you don't know what to listen for (and even if you do sometimes!). The great thing about Adams, the thing that makes him my favorite minimalist composer, is that he avoids the tedium that other minimalists are prone to. I've been listening to this piece the past few days as I prepare to teach my last class of the year and it's so much fun I thought I'd share it here. The animation in the video is terrific too!

Funny ~

This is Man of the House hard at work. Doesn't he look like he's strenuously toiling away to earn our daily bread? He actually is! When he's not pastoring, he's teaching Latin and Greek to junior high and high school students online. Anyone who's ever worked with that age group knows what hard work that can be. But how many teachers do you know who can go to work in shorts and a T-shirt, put their feet up on their desks and still run a smooth and stimulating class? The commute to the office (down the hall from our bedroom) isn't bad either! :-)

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #18

Weeeelll, I didn't finish 1066: The Year of the Conquest after all this week. I'm surprised I didn't because it's only 200 pages long, but I am just over halfway. I'm reading it rather slowly, trying to keep straight people named Tostig, Stigand, Loefwulf, and Lanfranc. I'll save my comments about it for now, but I am eager to commend it to you. Let that suffice for the time being.

In the meantime, I've been listening to Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope and finished it just yesterday. I found it a very enjoyable book, read engagingly by Simon Vance. The plot revolves around the political and/or ecclesiastical maneuverings of the clergymen of Barchester Cathedral and their effects on the various relationships among themselves and their families. There are a wide array of characters: the hen-pecked Bishop Proudie and his overbearing wife; the gentle and capable ex-warden Septimus Harding and his two daughters, one a young widow, the other married to fastidious Archdeacon Grantly; the odious and manipulative golddigger Mr. Slope; the scholarly yet socially inept Mr. Arabin; the disreputable Stanhope family; and the impecunious but likable Quiverfull family (who naturally have a lot of children~fourteen, to be precise).

Written in 1857, Barchester Towers pokes fun at the opposing forces inside the Church of England at the time: the High Church traditionalists and the new Evangelicals. It's enlightening to read books that deal with the issues of the day and which were written by people who were eyewitnesses. Viewing the controversies from their vantage point rather having the events interpreted for us by a modern historian looking back brings a different perspective. Even though the book is mainly a work of fiction, Trollope's discussion of "Sabbath schools" for children of the poor and high church v. low church was interesting to me. I already had a fairly good understanding of these issues before I read Trollope's book, but it's always gratifying to read something that refreshes and cements ideas already planted in the mind.

In some ways, Barchester Towers reminds me of Dickens but without the intricate storyline and mysterious plot tangles. The story is much more straighforward and even predictable. It certainly has the amusing names, which I think are fashioned after Dickens (i.e. Mr. Quiverfull and Dr. Omicron Pi*). It also has a similar level of detail, so if Dickens isn't your thing, I don't think Trollope will be either. However, I enjoyed it and will probably give more Trollope books a try.

*Since I listened to this book, I haven't seen how the good doctor spells his last name. It could be Pi, Pye, or even Pie, I presume. I used Pi to stay with the Greek alphabet theme.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real ~ Pathetic Garden Edition

This week my focus is on the "real" part of Like Mother, Like Daughter's Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real feature. Our backyard is very small and of course our garden is even smaller, but it's big enough to keep us in green beans, carrots, and lettuce throughout the summer. But this spring~THIS spring~the weather has been most uncooperative for keeping it weeded. It has rained almost everyday for the past five weeks, and since I will not weed in the rain, this is what it looks like now. Pathetic, isn't it?

That lovely spray of green you see? That is mostly weeds. There are a few things that we planted on purpose, though. See?

I try not to complain about the weather since complaining about it is in effect complaining about God. Since He controls the weather and sends it to us, who am I to say that it ought to be different? Do I really think He doesn't know what's going on? How much I am longing for open windows and sunshine and warm breezes? How tired I am of the rain? And I am sooooooo successful in not complaining. Just ask my family. On second thought, you better not.

I know there are many people who are truly suffering because of the recent tornadoes and flooding; my unweeded garden insignificant compared to that, but it's real life around here and so I thought I'd share it. The sun is shining today and it's forecast to be 67 degrees, so I'm making a raid on those weeds this afternoon. Say your prayers, weeds. Your end is near. . . Lord willing and the creek don't rise (literally!).

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Family Culture IV

You know the drill. Whence did these quotes originate?

She’s nothing but a baby.

A ghastly looking crew!

What's it got in its pocketses?

You're a fine, steady hand.

Not very how
(in answer to inquiries about one's health and well-being)

A wizard is never late. He arrives exactly when he means to.

Gotcher conk!

Tut, tut, it looks like rain!

That's the boy for me.

I'm the most horrible! I'm the most horrible!

He jumped six inches in the air with surprise and anxiety.

Swish and flick!

I can't put my arms down!

You won't have to be mumbling with me.

I just want your opinion, your honest opinion.

Plain food and plenty of it.

Pickin' flowers
(pronounced "flawrs")

I never bawled!

Husband high
(in reference to whether or not a girl is of marriageable age)

References to Napoleon, character, the Magna Carta, or propitious occasions

How many of them did you recognize?

Monday, May 2, 2011

2011 Reading Challenge~~Book #17

I'm glad I read the dedication* of John Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps or I might have given up in disgust by the third chapter. Since I had been warned to expect the improbable and even the nearly impossible, I was amused rather than dismayed at the long pile-up of unlikely events throughout the story. Our hero, Richard Hannay, has the uncanniest luck I have ever seen and is more than once saved from certain demise by the unlikeliest of rescuers. Hannay is unwittingly drawn into international political intrigue when a stranger shows up on his doorstep and ends up dead a few days later, leaving behind a little black notebook full of coded clues and a trail that leads his enemies straight to Hannay. A chase across Scotland and back to London ensues. Set in 1914 just before the start of World War I, this book is an early example of the spy novel. I'm not a huge fan of the genre, but it was interesting to read an early specimen.

The Thirty-Nine Steps was a fun-enough, easy read, a good choice after my rather serious Lenten reading. There are four more Richard Hannay novels, which I may or may not read, but I'm glad I've read this one after hearing so much about the author over the years. The Thirty-Nine Steps has been made into a movie several times. We own the Hitchcock version, so I will have to dig it out now and see what I think.

I must apologize that this review is late. We were out-of-town this weekend, and it turns out we had no internet access. Once the withdrawal symptoms ceased, we found we didn't really mind (except I couldn't post my review!).


My dear Tommy,
You and I have long cherished an affection for that elementary type of tale which Americans call the "dime novel" and which we know as the "shocker"--the romance where the incidents defy the probabilities, and march just inside the borders of the possible. During an illnes last winter I exhausted my store of those aids to cheerfulness, and was driven to write one for myslef. This little volume is the result, and I should like to put your name on it in memory of our long friendship, in the days when the wildest fictions are so much less improbable than the facts.


Around My House

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